All Minnesota Vikings players were to report to training camp yesterday, and camp actually starts today. With that start comes the expectations of the new season. The players are preparing to start the year off better than last year, and with so much new talent, almost anything is possible.
I see the season going one of three ways. And to help me describe these three ways, I've found songs that help describe each scenario. I will warn you in advance, the second song has some language in it that may not be appealing to you.
All the videos of the songs come from YouTube, and Bleacher Report is not responsible for the content on those web pages. We all know how comments can get on YouTube, so just ignore them and enjoy the music.
So with all that said, here are the three songs I feel best describe each different scenario that the Vikings might see this season.
The first, and least desirable scenario, is a repeat performance of 2011. Agony may have been the defining term of that season. The team disappointed, almost nothing went right, and Adrian Peterson destroyed his knee near the end of a lost season. Everything could go wrong, ending with Vikings fans longing for the rookie draft by week 5 again.
For those who haven't heard, here is a link to "Dear Agony." There are many lines that could apply from this song, not the least of which is "I will end where I begin." That means the team could end right where they started, 3-13 without a true identity.
"Suffer slowly" is said during the chorus of the song, and that could become the "chorus" of the Vikings season. It could not only mean the teams state of struggles, but also the feelings of the fans. They don't deserve to watch their once-powerful team crumble again but could have to suffer through another long season.
Many different things could go wrong this season. Christian Ponder may not improve as expected. Adrian Peterson might not return to form. The new-look offensive line could struggle all year. The secondary might not improve. The unproven linebacker staff may falter. The new highly touted rookies may underwhelm.
I hate thinking like this, but it is worth taking a look at. There is just so much left unknown.
With all these variables and unknowns about the Vikings heading into 2012, the season might be painful to watch. If everything goes down this road, it will be another long, agonizing season for Minnesota.
Now we move onto happier tidings. At least a little happier. This, in my opinion, is the most likely scenario for 2012.
The season isn't perfect, the team doesn't meet every expectation, but they perform. They play up to the skill of their opponent and are able to compete with everybody, completing a couple upsets along the way. They show improvement and display that, while they aren't elite yet, they are on their way.
(Like I mentioned on the title slide, this song has some language in it that may not be appreciated by every audience. Follow the link at your own discretion.)
"Sun Storm" may not be the perfect song for this scenario, but it was a pretty good fit. Not only does it talk about "dying in this town", which is fitting with the team staying in Minnesota now, it discusses potential for a bright future.
"Something beautiful within my grasp" can directly relate to how this season may go. So much potential is hidden on this roster. It may start to take form and show fans how close they really are.
"The first step is getting out of our own way" is a perfect way to describe how to improve from last season. All the late-game letdowns, turnovers and stupid penalties need to go if this team wants to improve, and I think they will start to do that.
Obviously there are many areas the team could improve in from last year. Ponder could show the offseason helped him improve. Peterson could bounce back from his injury. Everson Griffen could display his talents at his new position.
The secondary might show more maturity and skill than last year. Matt Kalil (now under contract) could help fix the offensive line. And the receivers outside of Percy Harvin could actually perform well.
Under this second scenario, the Vikings will be able to excite fans, upset some tougher opponents and grasp that potential. By season's end, they could be considered a legitimate team.
Now onto my favorite scenario. While this one is unlikely, it's not as unlikely as people think.
This is where the Vikings win numerous close games, instead of losing all of them like they did last year. Ten of the team's 13 loses were by seven points or less. So with even a small improvement, the record could have been much different.
With at least four new starters on defense (Letroy Guion, Jasper Brinkley, Mistral Raymond, Harrison Smith) and two returning starters who missed most of last season (Cris Cook and Antoine Winfield), the defense could be entirely different.
The offense also has four expected new starters (Matt Kalil, Geoff Schwartz, Jerome Simpson, and Kyle Rudolph) and one player moving to a new position (Charlie Johnson). This team could make waves.
"Anthem for the Underdog" would be the perfect song for this scenario. The title alone should be enough to describe the Vikings having a winning season, but the lyrics were spot on in many places too.
The opening lines could become very fitting. "You say you know just who I am, but you can't imagine" is basically saying you have no idea what this team is capable of, and they will surprise.
"I'm tired of backing down" would speak towards the team's disgust of last season. They hated losing as much as fans hated seeing them lose. With all the new blood in the locker room, things could and should be different.
"Feeling the pain of a thousand hearts" could describe all the fans that were let down the past two seasons. Obviously there are more than a thousand fans, but it gets the point across. Fans are sick of seeing the team lose, and management made changes to fix it.
In order for the team to reach this lofty scenario, a lot of things have to go right. Ponder needs to look like a solid quarterback. Peterson needs to fully return. Rudolph and Simpson need to step into their new roles gracefully.
The defensive line needs to continue to play great, and the offensive line needs to start to play great. Our linebackers need to impress, and the overall defense needs to show they improved.
I think it is possible for the team to do this, but not necessarily likely. They may be another year away still. But if the team can get everything together, the Vikings could be the underdogs that sneak our way into the elite talent this season.